Important legal notice
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Communicable diseases
Communicable diseases - Focusing on neglected killers
“To develop effective means of diagnosing and treating SARS, and to vaccinate health workers who are likely to be exposed to the disease in the future.”

The problem

When SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) struck mostly Asia in 2003, hospital-based health workers comprised a high fraction of reported cases. The exposure of those workers to infection severely undermined the ability of communities to contain the epidemic. No SARS vaccine has been approved, though several are at advanced stages of development. Another SARS outbreak could occur at any time. It is therefore crucial to develop vaccines, antiviral therapies and diagnostic kits so that health workers – and eventually the general population – will be protected against future outbreaks.

DISSECT  Developing medical interventions for SARS


DISSECT will develop strategies for SARS therapy and prophylaxis, in the first instance for health workers and later for other vulnerable groups.

The project aims to:

  • Study and compare various potential vaccine approaches, including ‘classical’ vaccines (based on whole inactivated virus), subunit vaccines, and recombinant vaccines.
  • Develop antiviral therapies
  • Generate diagnostic kits to identify infected individuals at early stages of the disease, and differentiate between naturally infected and immunised patients

Contribution to policy development:

  • Protection, ultimately through vaccination, of health workers who will be operating in the front line against SARS if another outbreak occurs
  • Protection of the wider community, and prevention of the spread of the disease across borders, including those of the European Union
  • Creation of a strategic global alliance between European groups of experts in the study of SARS-like coronaviruses, and groups in China where the disease originally emerged

Project deliverables

  • SARS vaccine based on a genetically engineered attenuated virus – October 2004-October 2007
  • Immunotherapy based on monoclonal antibodies – October 2004-October 2007
  • DNA microarray system able to identify the SARS virus and characterise different genes – October 2004-October 2007
  • Diagnostic test able to detect different types of antibodies – October 2004-October 2007


  • Website
  • Four project review meetings
  • Three scientific progress reports
  • Technology Implementation Plan

Technical information

Project acronym: DISSECT
Project’s official full title: Development of Intervention Strategies against SARS in a European-Chinese Taskforce
Research priority: 2. Providing health, security and opportunity to the people of Europe 
Specific webpage: Details not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 511060
Start date: 01/10/2004 
Kick off meeting: 15/10/2004
Completion date: 01/10/2007
European Commission scientific officer: Cornelius Schmaltz (

Name: Centro Nacional de Biotecnologia
Abbreviated Name: CNB
Address: Campus de la Universidad Autónoma de Madrid - Cantoblanco - 28049 Madrid
Country: Spain
Tel: +34 91 585 4500
Fax: +34 91 585 4915


Name: State Key Laboratory of Biological Control
Abbreviated Name: SKLBC
Country: China

Name: Utrecht University
Abbreviated Name: UU
Country: The Netherlands

Name: Institute for Animal Health
Abbreviated Name: IAH
Country: UK

Name: Erasmus University Medical Centre
Abbreviated Name: EUMC
Country: The Netherlands

Name: Sun Yatsen University
Abbreviated Name: SYU
Country: China

Name: Wuhan Institute of Virology
Abbreviated Name: WIV
Country: China

Name: Centro Nacional de Microbiológia
Abbreviated Name: CNM
Country: Spain

Name: Fort Dodge Veterinaria
Abbreviated Name: FDV
Country: Spain

Name: Intervet UK Ltd/Nobilon
Abbreviated Name: I/N
Country: UK